A bill proposing a ban on fracking in the Republic of Ireland has been voted through the Dáil.

The bill was tabled by Sligo-Leitrim Fine Gael TD Tony McLoughlin and received cross-party support. It will now be scrutinised by the Select Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment which may wish to make amendments.

During the second stage debate in the Dáil last Thursday evening, TDs pointed out that while this bill could potentially ban fracking in the Republic of Ireland the controversial process could still go-ahead in Northern Ireland.
Deputy McLoughlin’s bill calls for the prohibition of “the exploration and extraction of petroleum from shale rock, tight sands and coal seams in the Irish onshore and Ireland’s internal waters.” He said he had sponsored the bill as a direct response to “public health and environmental concerns” brought forward by his constituents and community groups like Love Leitrim and Good Energies Alliance Ireland.

Irish Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Independent TD Denis Naughten, supported the bill but also referred to the ongoing fracking study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is looking specifically at the geology of Roscommon, Leitrim, Clare and Fermanagh, including seismicity or the potential for earthquakes. He said the EPA report “will be the litmus test with regard to whether fracking should take place or the conditions under which it should take place not only in Ireland but in Europe and across the world.”

Read: Anti-fracking group fears cross Border report is industry led

That EPA report has come under criticism by anti-fracking campaigners and some politicians, who are concerned that it is being conducted by a consortium led by consultants CDM Smith which has worked for the oil and gas industry in the United States and Europe.

Fianna Fáil Cork north-west TD Aindrias Moynihan addressed the debate, saying: “Fracking is a dirty process that produces a dirty energy. It is of particular concern that while the Bill would ban fracking in the Republic, the fracking process could be used across the border and this could interfere with water courses here. This issue needs to be addressed.”

Read: Medical Officer ‘guided’ by report that says fracking poses ‘low risk to human health’

Independent TD for Roscommon-Leitrim Michael Fitzmaurice said: “This is a good day for politics … We need to ensure there is no hiccup from now on and that there will be no effort to push in something else later.”
Erne West Sinn Féin Councillor Anthony Feely commented on the development across the border, stating: “It was great to see the first steps in banning fracking in the 26 counties. 
“Now we must continue the campaign to ensure that fracking can never take place anywhere on the island of Ireland.”